Little ones’ growing bodies and minds (and older bodies and minds!) benefit from a healthy diet full of colorful foods, and regular physical activity. Caregivers and parents can help children get excited about staying healthy when they incorporate healthy habits into their everyday routines, playfully!
The resources in this bundle will…
- explore some common challenges parents and caregivers face when establishing—and maintaining—healthy habits with children,
- and offer strategies and activities to help incorporate healthy habits throughout the day.
For providers: The last section in this bundle provides related resources and facilitation tips for you to use with FFN providers and parents in your setting.
In this video, provider to family, friend, and neighbor caregivers, Zoraima Rosario-Rolón chats with Sesame’s Alex Lupo, about the importance of nutrition and physical movement for young children, and the role caregivers play in helping kids foster a positive relationship with healthy foods and exercise. As you watch the video, jot down any ideas you’d like to remember for later.
Healthy Habits Calendar
Visual reminders can help adults and children remember to keep up with their healthy habits. Post the calendar somewhere kids can see it every day. Together, fill out the calendar. You might:
- Plan ahead and fill out the calendar at the beginning of each week. Ask, “How would you like to get moving this week?”, and “What healthy foods would you like to try?”
- Fill in the calendar together at the end of each day. Ask, “How did we move our bodies today?” If children realize they haven’t exercised yet, say, “Let’s move!” and do a quick movement activity, such as jumping jacks, right then and there!
Either way, help kids draw or write the healthy plans for each day. Create a new calendar every week and be sure to celebrate your dedication and accomplishments!
Staying Healthy, Having Fun
Staying healthy is about how we eat, how we move, and how we think. You can help your child make staying healthy into a regular and fun routine with a few simple activities.
Establishing a healthy diet is a very important routine to set up with your child. The more you involve your child in establishing these habits, the easier it will be to make them a routine.
- Eat the rainbow –Together, name colorful things to eat like red strawberries, orange carrots, green peas, blueberries, and purple blackberries. You can even make a rainbow chart so that they can keep track of which colors they’ve filled in that day!
- Water, water everywhere – Encourage your child to drink six to eight cups a day by having them pick out a special water drinking cup that only they are in charge of. You can also create fun ways to track their water drinking, like adding a stone or bean to a jar for each cup they drink.
It’s also important to help your child build healthy habits to take care of their bodies, both by getting exercise and practicing good hygiene.
- Adventure walks – Turn exercise into an exploration. You might discover the woods in your area, or investigate a new block or neighborhood. Work with your child to create a map of where you’ve been and make a plan to fill in more and more of the map as you make new discoveries.
- Family challenges – A little competition can lead to a lot of fun. Create your own family Olympics with any kind of activity that everyone can try. Maybe it’s a certain number of jumping jacks or soccer kicks or how many minutes you spend on the playground.
- Make screen time active time – The internet is full of kid-friendly workout videos. Find a few that seem to fit your child, and then do them together. Engaging hosts and themed exercises can turn staying fit into an exciting treat!
- Healthy teeth and healthy hands – It’s not enough to exercise, you have to keep yourself healthy. So, make sure your child is regularly washing her hands and brushing her teeth after every meal. To help build the habit, be a good model. Wash hands and brush teeth together (it will be good for you, too!)
- Sleep matters! – Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. It can help to set up consistent routines, that include relaxation before bed, such as a hot bath and a book, and regular times to fall asleep and wake up. Bedtime might be another time for deep breaths and sharing ‘thankful for moments’ from the day.
Healthy Mind and Heart
Staying healthy isn’t just about the body, it’s also important to take care of your mind and your heart.
- Mindful moments – Taking just five minutes to sit and quietly breathe together is an amazing way to start the day. See if you can set aside a little time before you walk out the door or really start your day to sit with your child and do nothing but take deep, quiet breaths. A little meditation can go a long way.
- Being thankful – As part of your dinner or bedtime routine, have everyone in the family say one thing they are thankful for. It could be something big, like winning a basketball game, or something small, like appreciating nature. This routine is especially helpful when you’ve had a really hard day, because it is a reminder that no matter what, there are always things to be grateful for.
Building a new habit can be hard. Often, we start new routines and succeed for a while, but then regular life interferes. We might have a crazy day that interrupts our schedule, have a bad night’s sleep that makes it hard to get motivated, or just forget! It’s important to remember that this happens to everyone! In fact, trying, failing, then trying again is a key part of starting a new habit. It can take weeks before any habit becomes a regular part of your life.
Tips & Tools for Providers
You can use the resources in this bundle to host a workshop for parents and FFN caregivers in your setting. Consider the following ideas and facilitation tips to provide a high-quality, informative, and playful experience!
- Begin by watching the “chat” video together with parents and/or FFNs. Discuss the ideas from the video and invite participants to share what healthy habits they enjoy doing with children in their care. What challenges do they face?
- Print and share the Staying Healthy, Having Fun article and printable activity to reference for more ideas and discussion prompts. Encourage participants to brainstorm and plan some practical meals and activities to keep everyone feeling their best.
- Finally, if you have more time, introduce more resources from SSIC.org that support the theme, such as:
- Moving Through Transitions (Article)
- Grover’s Playground Workout (Interactive)
- Anytime and Sometime Foods (Article)
For even more learning on this topic, check out our Circles of Care course!